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Two on Teacher Preparation

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Two recent news stories illustrate nicely two ways of looking at teacher preparation: an "output"-oriented view of teacher preparation that focuses on student achievement, and an input-oriented one that focuses on credentials and curriculum.

Texas is looking to institute a state system for approving schools of education that puts a heavier focus on teacher effectiveness. It sounds very similar to Louisiana's system, which tracks graduates of teacher-training programs into their classrooms to gauge their ability to boost achievement.

Indiana officials, on the other hand, are duking it out over proposed regulations that would allow for more alternate-route teaching programs, reduce pedagogy coursework in education schools, and require candidates to take more content-area preparation.

In both stories, the common theme is one of the state's role in overseeing teacher training. That's an important if overlooked aspect of teacher preparation: Teachers' colleges and alternative routes get a lot of criticisms about their quality, but ultimately states are charged with identifying and closing poor-performing programs. (The Texas story notes that not once in 16 years did the state accreditation body actually close down a program.)

What mix of "inputs" and "outputs" do you think states should be regulating?

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